Monday, May 4, 2009

Myrtle Beach, SC to Home Port, Wilmington, NC via Southport.

The first photo is our gold burgee celebration with Connie and Ron and Kathy from the boat next to us in the marina. The second photo is the resident aligator who had to come along side to be part of the celebration. The third photo is the way we were greeted by Connie with ballons. The fourth photo is the sign at the entrance to our marina. And the last photo is the very bitter-sweet farwell on the dock at Southport before we sailed with Blue Max for the last time.
























We got underway about 9:00 and stopped at North Myrtle Beach Yacht Club to top off our fuel tanks. From there we had the current against us most of the way to Southport. We really got excited when we passed the state line and realized we were back in North Carolina!!! That was when it really began to sink in that we were nearly home. We enjoyed a front porch visit with the Creeches of C-Life. What a beautiful location.
On Sunday morning we decided to get to going about 8:00 to take advantage of the tide running up the Cape Fear River. Good-byes on the dock were difficult. We have traveled with Blue Max almost continuously for the past 10 months. We shared drinks almost every evening during that time. I did not realize the bond which develops in that time. We ran together to the entrance to Snow’s Cut where Sunshine crossed her wake at 9:35 on Sunday, April 26, 2009 after leaving Wilmington Marine Center at 7:00 am on May 12, 2008. At the entrance to Snow’s Cut we turned north for the last 10 miles to our marina and Blue Max continued on through the cut and toward their home. Golly what emotions!!!.
We entered our marina about 11:00 to a welcome home from Ron and Connie and some of the people on the dock there. As soon as we got tied into the slip Muriel and Shelly were over on Ron and Connie’s boat, Lady C, enjoying some wine to celebrate our return, and so went the rest of the afternoon and evening.
On Monday our good friends, Ernie and Dianne Crymes brought our car to us in Wilmington. This gave us the opportunity to introduce them to Ron and Connie, our friends here at the marina. We enjoyed a dinner with them and they returned to Mooresville on Tuesday morning. We had intended to leave on Thursday but when the time we decided to delay leaving. It is now Monday, a week later and we are still on the boat saying we may leave on Thursday. We have driven to Southport twice, once to visit with Golden Lily and once to visit with Wander’n L&M. We enjoyed both these visits very much. These are the last of the loopers we have traveled with still had to pass by Southport.
I am working on refinishing some of the wood on the exterior of the boat. This was intended to be done before we left last May….I am just now getting to it. We have been keeping in touch with Blue Max to follow their progress. They may be starting their travels up the Chesapeake Bay today. We have not heard today whether the weather allowed them to travel or not.
We have enjoyed drinks and dinners several times with others living on boats here at our marina. We missed getting to witness two alligators fighting when one finally ate another. We were watching an 82 foot sailboat being lifted out of the water when the struggle occurred. This morning we got to watch a large paddle wheel powered river boat maneuver out of the marina. It was quite a sight to see such a boat maneuvering in such tight quarters.

Friday, April 24, 2009

The first photo is from our anchorage in Tom Point Creek. The second photo is what the sky looked like right after we docked in Charleston, we did not get it, but some locations nearby were getting half dollar size hail. I do not think the third photo is what I intended it to be, but it is some of the shore line of the Waccamaw River. The last two are from the anchorage in the Waccamaw River near MM375 where we spent Thursday night. This was probably our last time to anchor with Blue Max!!! Emotions are starting to become quite mixed. Excited to be nearing the point of crossing our wake and getting to see all the friends at home but not wanting to leave the new life style and many friends we have made in the past year.














We slept fairly late on Sunday morning and got a slow start. After bagels for breakfast we started preparing to get underway. Jeff and Anne got away a little before 11:00 and we got under way about 11:20. The skies were mostly overcast but it was warm, upper 70’s. This was a pretty cruise through the marshes of southern South Carolina. We arrived at our intended anchorage in Tom Point Creek about 3:45 and got the anchor set nicely in a pretty well protected area surrounded by trees on shore. I got the dingy down and it started right off and ran fine. I am sure the problems a few days ago were because I connected the gas line before I opened the tank vent and that flooded the engine. We will share drinks and snacks with Blue Max in a few minutes.
We got away from Tom Point Creek at 7:00am, some kind of a record for us, so that we could arrive in Charleston at low tide to avoid the swift current in the Cooper River while docking. This worked perfectly, we flew through Elliot Cut with a very swift current and arrived at the Charleston Maritime Center Marina at low tide with just about no current but the wind was blowing quite hard. We walked downtown for dinner and a bit of a look around. The next morning at about 5:30 we were awakened by the sound of the engine on the tall ship, Spirit of Charleston, docking just across from us. After breakfast we all walked to the bus stop and rode to the visitor center where we split-up. Bill and I took a bus to down town to tour the new destroyer but when we got there we found the line was so long that they had closed it because the ship had to leave the dock shortly after noon. The women took a horse carriage tour through the historic district and Muriel learned about a special church service at the Circular Church. The driver told them not to miss the service because part of the service would be in Gouhla, a low country dialect spoken by slaves. Muriel and I went and enjoyed the experience. The entire audience was involved in singing, clapping, foot stomping and hand waving before the service was concluded.
Freedom’s Turn had arrived in the marina in the afternoon and we got to visit with them for a while. They said they planned to leave about 7:00 in the morning. We got away about 9:15 and they were still in the marina.
We left the marina intending to anchor about half way to Georgetown and then continue to Georgetown the next day. But when we got to the area where we had thought we would anchor the wind was so strong and there was so little shelter that we just continued on and arrived in Georgetown about 4:15. While we were getting tied into the marina we met another couple who had just arrived also. They spent the winter in Florida aboard their boat and are on the way home to Cape May, NJ. After a short visit we all walked into town for dinner. We have to stop eating out so much. We will all be like blimps.
Like I said last night we are all going to look like blimps. We got up this morning and walked into town to get breakfast at Thomas Café. Freedom’s Turn told us they had good and inexpensive breakfast. They were right on target. We finally got underway about 10:00 To head up the Wacamaw River to anchor in an ox bow. While eating breakfast Bill saw in the news paper that there is a large wild fire in the Myrtle Beach area. During the day we heard the Coast Guard announce that the water way is closed in the Myrtle Beach area until further notice. We talked to the marina there and they said they expect whose homes were destroyed by the fire. After we got anchored and started to settle we saw Dean on a small sail boat converted to power boat coming up the river. We haled him and he entered the ox bow and anchored nearby. We invited him over for drinks and then dinner which we all shared. It was an enjoyable evening for all. He has been on the loop for four years, starting in Bar Harbor, Maine.
We have ordered our gold looper flag sent to the marina at home and asked Ron and Connie to pick it up for us. We spoke to them today and they will still be on their boat when we arrive on Sunday or Monday. It will be great to have them there. Their boat is probably sold and we thought they may be moved off by the time we got home. We also started to call people to let them know when we expect to be back home. It is exciting to anticipate returning and yet it is disappointing to think that this great adventure is about to end. We will hate to see our friends go on without us. Blue Max will continue on toward their home and several other boats still behind us will pass south of Wilmington and we will miss seeing them. Wander’n L&M, Golden Lily, Freedom’s Turn, and Kismet are all boats we ran with off and on and we would love to see them again.
We spent the evening and the night in a very peaceful anchorage on the Waccamaw River. It was an ox bow with enough room for several boats. There were nine boats there before the evening was over because of the ICW closing. We met Dean on Dolcimea again. We have been seeing him ever since we were in Frenandina, Fl. We invited him to come over for drinks and dinner and had a very nice visit. The nicest people play about on boats.
This morning we delayed leaving this morning because the ICW was closed due to the fires at Myrtle Beach. About 10:00 I called the Coast Guard and they said the ICW was open to all traffic so we got underway and arrived here about 1:00, Barefoot Landing. We enjoyed a burger and then walked around the shops. Tomorrow we plan to move on to Southport. The next stop will be home in Wilmington.

Isle of Hope to Beaufort, SC

Ben and Jerry's in Charleston had free ice cream the day we were there. The second photo is what we saw as we entered the river to cross at Savanah. The third photo is from Savanah. That must be us at another ice cream parlor!!









We arrived at Isle of Hope just after noon so we got a courtesy car and made the necessary Wal-Mart run and returned to put the groceries away. Then we went back out to eat dinner at a nearby restaurant which some others had said was good. We enjoyed the dinner but mine was not as good as expected. The others, Muriel and Bill and Eileen were very impressed with their meals, an excellent chef.
We were up early this morning and out to catch a bus at 8:00. We rode into downtown Savannah and took a tour of the old historic district. We were very impressed with the old buildings and the quality of the restorations.
We plan to get underway about 8:00 in the morning and run to Beaufort, SC. This will be the longest run we have made in some time, a little over 50 miles.
The forecast this morning was for winds at 15 to 20 mph with gusts to 25 mph from the northeast. We were a little apprehensive about the day’s trip because we had to cross Port Royal Sound to get into Beaufort, SC. We decided to head out and if the wind was too strong when we got to the sound we would turn back a few miles and anchor but the forecast for tomorrow was the same. We left Isle of Hope with fairly strong winds but they decreased as the day progressed. We crossed the sound with only a moderate chop and arrived in Beaufort at dead high tide so that docking was as good as it gets in Beaufort where the marina is notorious for strong currents. As we were tying up Judy walked up. They stayed an extra day here to say hello. They have been running a day ahead of us for some time now. As soon as we got settled, and registered, we all walked into town for an ice cream treat and a chance to visit.
On Friday morning I got up early and checked the engines so that would be done whenever we start to move again. Then Muriel and I walked into town for breakfast. We walked into a restaurant and found Les and Judy already seated so we ate and visited with them. Soon after breakfast they left. They are going to do the down east loop this summer so we will probably not see them again any time soon. This afternoon we walked around some of the old homes in Beaufort and decided to take a narrated carriage tour. We enjoyed it and learned some about the old homes here.
Jeff and Anne arrived before noon on Saturday. So we walked into town to the bagel shop and had bagels for lunch. We enjoyed visiting during the afternoon and then decided to enjoy happy hour at a couple of the local pubs. Muriel and Anne really enjoyed the happy hour. Bill and Eileen were with us and we all had some good laughs and plenty of snacks. We finally got back to the boat about 8:00 after also visiting with some of the local boaters who were having a pot luck on the dock. Muriel insisted on fixing a dinner. It was very good but we were all already full from the snacks and drinks. Later, after dinner, Muriel and Anne used the excuse that they were going out to walk Carlie and they went back to the pot luck to get some of their banana pudding.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Jekyll Island to Isle of Hope via one anchorage and Kilkenny Creek

The first photo is the dock at Kilkenny Marina. The second photo is the old village hotel at Kekyll Island.




We got a fairly early start for us, underway from Jekyll Island by about 7:40. The winds were light and we had a good beginning. The forecast was for 15 to 20 miles per hour from the NE. We figured this would not be too bad in the ICW. Before long Muriel said she was seeing gusts to 49 mph on our anemometer. Crossing the sounds was not nearly as bad as I thought it might be with that much wind. We intended to anchor in Back River but when we got there we found virtually no protection from the NE winds and the water was too deep to anchor where there was slight protection. We decided to move on and look at a couple of other possibilities further along the way. We selected New Teakettle Creek. The water depth is better for anchoring and the wind gets very little fetch to produce waves however the wind does keep the boats in constant motion dancing before the wind. This is Easter and Muriel has prepared ham and potato salad. We are looking forward to dinner.
We have reservations at marinas for the next couple of nights because the forecast is for thunderstorms Monday evening and 60% chance of them continuing into Tuesday. Hopefully we will be able to get into a marina tomorrow before the weather turns bad.
We got underway Monday at 7:30 to try to get passed the two inlets and on to the marina before the weather turns too bad. The wind was already coming into Sapello Sound off the ocean by the time we ran down the sound. We had three to four foot waves in the sound on our bow. We were able to get into the lee of the north side of the inlet before we had to turn broadside to the waves. This worked well for us. In St Catherine’s Sound the wind was not nearly so strong but we still had some fairly large waves coming in from the ocean. From there we had a short run up a narrow channel to get to Kilkenny Marina. Shortly after we got secured at the marina, about 12:30, the wind started to pickup and a little after that we had tornado watch issued for this area. There is a line of heavy rain on the GPS weather radar moving toward us. Glad we are in the marina, even though it is not much of a marina.
The tornado watch became a tornado warning and the wind blew and the lightning popped and it rain hard for a while then steadily for several hours. On Tuesday morning the weather was still forecasting a chance of more rain and T-storms but it looked pretty good so we took off at 9:00 to arrive at Hell Gate with a favorable tide. This worked for us but we had to idle along for an hour to arrive at Isle of Hope near high tide so we could approach the dock for a starboard tie. This is a beautiful facility. We have signed up for the courtesy car to make the inevetable Wll-Mart run. It has been a few weeks since we have been to a Wall-Mart. Tomorrow we plan to ride the bus into Savannah and spend the day touring the City.






We got a fairly early, 8:30, start from Six Mile Creek so that we could arrive at Ortega River before low tide because the water in the marina is quite shallow at low tide. It was the prettiest morning we have seen on the St John’s River. It seems a shame to be in the marina this afternoon but we need to get organized before we continue on up the ICW. We all showered and Muriel did laundry then we went out to eat, what a treat!
We discussed moving on to Ferdandina today but decided to stay here and finish the shopping and get some odds and ends serviced on the boat. The forecast yesterday sounded like today would be stormy in the afternoon. Naturally, it has been another beautiful day. We all walked back to the shops and got our hair cut. If the weather looks decent tomorrow we will go.
We ran to Fernandina Beach and arrived about 2:00 pm. At the last bend below Fernandina I began to bump the bottom rather solidly while in the center of the channel. We managed to bump through and found deeper water just to the west of our course. About the same time the wind began to pickup and with the tide being low and the wind blowing again getting docked inside the harbor at Fernandina was interesting. Soon after we got settled we boarded a “trolley” tour bus for a tour of “historic” Fernandina. The wind settled down about midnight and we had a good night’s sleep.
Thursday morning we move on to Cumberland Island and anchored out of the waterway near the island and dingyed into the Island at the National Park. From there we walked through a forest of live oaks draped with Spanish Moss with the ground covered with Palmettos and ferns and out to the beach which was one of the prettier beaches we have visited. We were amazed at the number of campers and day visitors on the island. This is Easter weekend and spring break for many schools. The wind was rather strong from the south as we crossed St Mary’s inlet and we briefly considered by passing Cumberland Island because we thought the anchorage might be too exposed to wind from this direction. The wind was not bad in the anchorage, the current was quite swift but we had a pleasant anchorage and we are certainly glad we stopped to visit Cumberland Island. When I put our dingy down and put the motor on I noticed that when I connected the gas line to the motor it had quite a bit of pressure on it because the weather had warmed since the last use and the tank was expanded from the pressure. I opened the vent and thought nothing of it. However, the motor never fired or tried to start. I finally gave up and Bill came and picked us up and we rode to the island with him. While laying in bed that night it dawned on me that the pressure in the tank had forced fuel into the motor and had totally flooded it, so badly that I could not start it. I feel sure it will run fine next time we need it.
We got up this morning and got a fairly early start for us, underway by 8:00, to use the tide to arrive at Jekyll and beat the winds on crossing St Andrews Sound. This worked fairly well, the wind began to pickup as we crossed the sound but we made it without much discomfort. We got into Jekyll in time to borrow the courtesy car and tour the island with Bill and Eileen and another couple we just met at Fernandina. This is another beautiful Georgia coastal island. The old buildings are very interesting and pretty. Right after we got back with the car Muriel and Shelly and I walked back to the beach so Shelly could pick some more shells. We were shocked at how muddy the ocean was. I think Muriel properly guessed that the cause is probably due to the flood waters from the rivers in the area dumping silt laden water into the ocean and the wind was blowing from the sound up the coast. We plan to stay here two nights and maybe three.
On Saturday we messed around on the boat and on the dock visiting with other boaters. Muriel fixed a breakfast of pancakes and bacon. Several people up and down the dock remarked about how good it smelled. In the afternoon Muriel and I walked back into the old Jekyll Island Village and looked around at some of the buildings and wandered through the hotel. Most of the buildings were built around the turn of the century and are still in excellent condition. The weather forecast looks decent to move on Sunday so we will probably get on up the waterway a little and anchor for the night.

Monday, April 6, 2009

St John's River

The first photo is our two boats on the long floating dock at the Outback Crab Shack. It is the longest floating dock on the river. The second photo is a gingerbread house on the river. The third photo is the aligator which Bill enjoyed playing with between our two boats while anchored just above Lake George.








We left St Augustine on the high tide at about 9:00 this morning while there was very little current to contend with while getting out of the marina which is crowded in by the construction underway on the Bridge of Lions. We had a little current boost for a while and then as we moved on up the waterway we gained boost from the ebbing tide moving on toward the St John’s River Inlet. We arrived at Beach Marina at Jacksonville Beach about 1:00 as the tide was ebbing. The marina is very nice, floating docks which are in excellent condition and the people are super helpful. They agreed to drive Muriel and Eileen to the Publix fro grocery shopping. Bill and Shelly and I walked over the 65 foot high bridge above the ICW to get ice cream and there was a Taco Bell nearby so Shelly and I had to stop for a taco. We are forecast to get some heavy weather tonight with fair weather in the morning, deteriorating to storms tomorrow evening. We will look at it in the morning with the idea of going on into the St John’s in the morning to find a place to hide from the weather.
With the forecast calling for severe thunder storms with damaging winds and hail, we decided to stay put today. Naturally, since we stayed here, the weather missed us and went on to the north of us. It has still been windy and overcast most of the day. I finished our income tax this morning and we walked to the nearby shops and spent most of the afternoon. We hope to move on up the river tomorrow.
Late in the evening and over night we got the strong thunderstorms. The lightning was poping very close to the boats and the winds were very strong. Sunday morning’s forecasts were for 20 to 25 mph winds with gusts to 40 mph. We stayed put again and worked most of the day on cleaning around the boat. We did walk into the Panera store for lunch and some final shopping at Publix. I stopped at the West Marine for some black caulk and re-caulked Shelly’s hatch. The winds did blow during the afternoon. We will leave here this morning after the marina office opens so that we can settle our bill for last night.
And leave we did, about 10:30 we finally got underway moving up stream in the St John’s River. We told the dockmaster that we would probably stop the first night to anchor in Black Creek. His advice was to just by pass Black Creek because it was all developed these days. As we got down toward the creek I told Bill I thought I would just stick our nose into the creek to see what it looked like. We were happy we did. There were a few houses but very few. We put the dingys down and explored a little and then enjoyed five o’clock together. There were a few boats up and down the creek but that stopped well before dark and we had a peaceful night.
We got underway again this morning to go to Murphy Creek, also described in the cruising guides and pristine and full of wildlife. It was a grey, overcast day with occasional showers but still a pleasant cruising day. We arrived at Murphy Creek about 2:45 and were greeted at the mouth of the creek by a large alligator. They were strung out all along the banks of the creek. As soon as we got anchored Bill and I got into the dingy to try to get closer to one to get some good photos. Just as we approached a large one the only boat we have seen came roaring past and spooked the gator. The sun pokes through the clouds occasionally this evening to make the clouds look darker. The forecast is for thunder showers tonight and 80% chance of rain tomorrow. We may hang out here a couple of days until the weather improves. This place has excellent protection.
It rained with lightning all off and on all night. We still got a good night’s sleep. The rain had mostly quit by morning, just a few showers left. We had a good breakfast of bacon and pancakes and finally got under way about 10:30. We had decided to head down to the north end of Lake George and anchor and then visit the springs which feed the lake and then head back north. We saw lots of alligators this morning even though it was overcast and not sunny. Just above Welaka we saw the largest alligator we have ever seen. When Muriel first pointed him out I told her I did not think it was an alligator and if it was we were probably not safe even in the big boat. When we looked through the binoculars it was certainly an alligator. We could even see the huge teeth sticking out of his mouth. Both boats circled back for another look and he stayed put. Bill said that he began to swim out toward them. He said he wandered if he thought Bill’s dingy might be lunch.
We decided to anchor in a body of water just north of Lake George because it might offer more protection from south winds which is what NOAA was forecasting with afternoon and evening thundershowers. As we were anchoring together the winds built suddenly from the north and Bill’s anchor dragged so that his line was under us. We broke up and anchored separately at least until the weather changes.
We talked about taking the dingys through the shallows between us and Lake George to explore the Salt Springs but decided the wind is probably too strong to be comfortable in the dingys. We will either Springs and then perhaps take in the Salt Srings on the way back north. This all depends on what the weather does.
On Wednesday morning we took the boats down to Silver Glen Springs and anchored in the Lake outside the small channel leading into the springs and dingyed into the springs. The water was the clearest I have seen anywhere we have been. We were amazed by the large boats which were anchored in the springs. The wind was fairly strong from the south as we ran down the lake and it was stronger as we ran back north with the wind on our sterns. The ladies were not too happy with the ride but it was not really bad. We anchored in the protection of Seven Sisters Islands. It took a little shuffling to get settled on the best location to anchor and then we could not get our anchor to set. After several attempts we decided to just anchor separately. Our anchor set on the first try. It was probably for the best because the wind really got strong during the night with thunder storms. When we got up in the morning Muriel turned on the TV and learned that we had been under a tornado warning for a couple of hours but it was just being lifted.
We have seen alligators in each of our anchorages on the St John’s River and numerous sightings along the River proper. Today, Thursday, we ran north, down the river, to Six Mile Creek in rather strong west to northwest winds. When we turned to cross the river to enter the creek the wind as on the beam and the ladies got uncomfortable again. We ran up the creek to the Outback Crab Shack which has about a quarter mile of floating dock which is free if you eat dinner with them. It is far enough up stream that it is protected from the winds and waves. As soon as we got docked we went into the Crab Shack and shared a pitcher of beer and followed that with a dingy trip up the creek. It was very pretty. We sighted many turtles and one alligator. This place just “hit the spot” after a week on the river. We are looking forward to dinner. We have called for a reservation back at the Ortega Yacht Club for tomorrow. We will probably spend a couple of nights there and get wash done and reprovision and start up the Georgia coast on Monday.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Daytona to St Augustine

The first photo is the Ponce de Leon Hotel and the second is a street in St Augustine which is lined with live oaks with Spanish moss hanging in them.




It rained off and on all night last night. We got away about 9:15 this morning after some light morning showers and the showers continued off and on throughout the morning. At least the wind has subsided. We arrived at Palm Coast Resort Marina about 1:00 with a light drizzle coming down. That ended soon after we arrived and Muriel and Shelly and I walked to the European Village nearby. Many of the shops were closed because it is Monday. We did manage to get ice cream and Muriel located a place she wants to get breakfast in the morning.
We all got up early Tuesday so we could get showers and dressed to go to the restaurant at 8:00am for breakfast before we left for St Augustine. We walked the several blocks to the European Village to find that the restaurant was closed on Tuesdays. Muriel prepared an excellent breakfast on the boat. We got under way about 10:00 to arrive at St Augustine about 2:00 with low tide and no current at the city marina. The current ran with us all the way to St Augustine, sometimes so strong that we were making six knots at idle. We did manage to arrive at low tide. We docked with very little current. Soon after we got docked we purchased tickets for the tour “train” and made the tour of the town. The tour was quite informative. We were able to learn what we wanted to see. On Wednesday morning we went first to tour the Ponce de Leon Hotel which is now occupied by the Flaggler College. Our tour guide was a young lady who is a senior at the college. She was very good. The extravagance of the building is unbelievable and nearly all the original beauty has been retained and very well maintained. The old ball room is now used as the dining hall for students. The windows in this room are the original Tiffany glass windows. It is the largest collection of Tiffany glass windows in one location. It is valued at $40,000,000. Some of the chandeliers are considered to be priceless. The building was built in the 1800’s and is still very much original and very sound. It had some of the first light bulbs in the south.
From the Ponce de Leon we went to the Presbyterian church which Flaggler built after his daughter died. Just like the hotel it was beautiful. Our next stop was the winery for a tour and wine tasting. Muriel bought a couple of bottles of wine which we returned to the boat and then we went on to the fort, Castillo de San Marcos for another tour. After we returned to the boat Bill and I set down with a fellow we met yesterday on the dock. He lives on the St Johns River and we wanted to discuss places to visit with him. After that Shelly and Bill and I had to go use our free miniature golf tickets, not my favorite thing to do. We plan to leave in the morning and head on up toward the St Johns.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Melbourne to Daytona via Harbortown and Titusville

We left Melbourne this morning about 9:00 in dead calm. The water stayed very calm until about the time we arrived at the Canaveral Barge Canal. We came to the Harbortown Marina to get fuel, the least we have paid for the be entire trip, $1.689. We also expected to able to get a bus to the Space Center but there is none available. The slips have very short fingers which makes it very difficult for Muriel and Shelly to get on and off the boat. We made a reservation to stay at Titusville tomorrow and we will hope to be able to rent a car at a reasonable price to get to the Space Center. The weather is still very pleasant, light winds, warm days and pleasantly cool nights. There are some showers forecast for the next few days but nothing which sounds bad.
This morning we got to visit briefly with C-Life and Bella Luna before we got underway from Harbortown. We made a short hop up the Indian River to Titusville where we entered the Titusville Municipal Marina. Soon after we got checked in Muriel and Shelly and I walked into town to look around. Our bimini top has been leaking profusely since I washed it at Marathon so I was looking for something to treat it with for waterproofing. We walked passed a boat canvas shop and stopped in to ask if they had anything or could recommend something. They do not stock anything but they can order a waterproofing liquid which is formulated for Sunbrella. They said “do not use Scotchgard because it will cause Sunbrella to turn yellow.” Sure glad we stopped there because Scotchgard is one product I was looking for. We ordered some of his product which should get here tomorrow.
We will pick-up a car in a few minutes so that we can tour the Space Center tomorrow morning and back track to Cocoa which we missed on the way here. As we walked back into the marina we got to watch several manatee browsing right along the seawall.
Well….we enjoyed the Space Center and we got there as it was opening for visitors but by the time we got back to the visitor’s center it was too late to view some of the movies we had wanted to see and we had to get back to turn in the rented car. It was a beautiful day for our visit, sunny and not hot. We plan to get under fairly early tomorrow, Thursday, and get on up to Daytona so that Blue Max can meet-up with their friends there. We will spend the weekend there and then move on up to St Augustine and Jacksonville where we intend to turn back south into the St John’s River.
The waterproofing arrived today so we will probably get to treat the bimini while we are docked at Daytona.
We got away from Titusville about 8:00 with a pretty heavy looking shower moving across our path to the north of us. It had mostly cleared out, moving to the northwest, before we got there. We had good weather the rest of the way to Halifax Harbor Marina in Daytona. We will stay here through the weekend while Blue Max visits with a good friend. Golden Lily is here and Goin’there is here in town so we will get to visit with them again. This is a very nice facility in every way. I have already selected the spot where I will be able to spread out our bimini to treat it with waterproofing.
Golden Lilly was here to help with docking when we arrived at Halifax Harbor. After a short visit we agreed to go to dinner later. Jim drive us down to Ponce Inlet to an early bird special he knew of there. It was a fun time.
We got to meet Blue Max’s friend before they left for the weekend. He is a fellow they know from home. He was born in Ireland and after living here in the states for most of his life he returned to the town in Ireland where he was born and became mayor of the town. He has now returned to the states to live and has a home here in Daytona. On Friday morning the girls went to the beach with Barbara from Golden Lily and I removed the bimini and laid it out on top of a poly sheet on the side walk and treated it and had it back on by the time they returned. Greg from Gon-Cruzin stopped by just in time to give a hand with getting it back on the frame.
On Saturday morning we walked to the farmer’s market a few blocks up the road. Muriel bought an assortment of fresh veggies so we will be having good vegetables for a while. We met Golden Lily at the market and they invited us to ride to the beach with them after noon. Muriel and Shelly went with them but I stayed on the boat and changed the oil in the port transmission again. It continues to have a dark color which I think is due to excessive wear in the discs. When they returned Jim, Bill and Shelly and I went in their car to the Harley shop so Shelly could look for a shirt. She could not find anything she could afford so we rode on out to look at the Daytona Speedway. It is quite large but not as impressive to me as the Charlotte Speedway.
Today, Sunday, Muriel is doing laundry and we intend to get back over to the beach again this afternoon. We intend to leave here Monday and head on up toward St. Augustine.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Melbourne

We got a late start from Ft Pierce today. We even asked if we could stay another night but they did not have space for us so after visiting with a woman on a sailboat which had Leawood, Ks. on its transom we found that she graduated one year behind us from the same high school. We also met another looper boat we had not encountered previously.
After much discussion as to our destination we departed headed for Melbourne and then I altered that to anchor Friday night and then go on to Melbourne for Saturday and Sunday nights. This is a nice anchorage and Shelly caught at least 12 fish this afternoon, several of which were keeper size but I released them rather than clean them. We still had fresh fish for dinner tonight. It was Mackerel that a group on a charter fishing boat caught yesterday and gave us some for taking their pictures together with their fish. They had caught their limit. Muriel learned a method of preparing fish from another looper at Marathon. We really like fish this way.
We spent a nice night at anchor and woke up to a cloudy morning. We took our time getting started and got some rain showers as we were getting under way. It was a very calm morning with some showers scattered in. It was nice to see how many people were using the small islands scattered along the waterway. We arrived at Melbourne about 12:30 and got settled into a slip quickly. We left the boats soon after we were checked in and walked the few blocks to the downtown area. There was an Irish parade which had just concluded but everything was in a festive atmosphere to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. The town was full of people wearing all kinds of green and drinking green beer. We intended to eat corned beef and cabbage at O’Malley’s but the wait was so long we decided on another place and maybe we will return to O’Malley’s tomorrow.
On Sunday morning we did laundry and worked about the boats. Muriel and I took a walk out on to the bridge to scout out locations for viewing the space shuttle launch. After some drinks we walked into downtown again to O’Malley’s to get some corned beef and cabbage. It was very good and the bread pudding was even better. Soon after we got back to the boats it was time to walk out to the bridge to view the shuttle.
The shuttle lift off was awesome even from this distance. We estimated it would take three minutes to hear the sound and that was pretty accurate. We watched as the boosters separated and began to descend and then watched the shuttle engines burn until they went out of sight in the haze near the horizon.
We will leave here in the morning and take about a week to get to Daytona where we will spend the weekend while Blue Max visits with some friends.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

The first photo is not the one I intended to load here. It must be a bridge in the Miami area. The next photo is one of the many mansions which line the waterway from Miami to Palm Beach. The third photo is another house with the huge yacht out front. The fourth photo is Rick and Cynthia and us at their house. The last photo is one of the prettiest draw bridge structures we have seen.



















We got away from Crandon Park a little later than anticipated. We were slow getting biscuits made and then we had to get our key deposit back and Shelly went over to buy bait. We got underway about 8:00. As we passed into Miami C-Life called on the radio. They were just leaving the anchorage at Marina Stadium and caught up at the first bridge which we had to have opened for passage. This was a different stretch of water from any other we have cruised. Most of the way was lined with high rise condos and beautiful homes. We passed through most of what is considered the canyon because the waterway is lined on both sides by concrete walls. We encountered very little traffic most of the way but it is easy to see how the wakes ricochet off the walls and keep the water very churned up. We had pretty good luck with timing on the bridges which we had to have opened and made our anchorage at Boca Raton Lake by about 3:30. Shelly got to fish for a while and caught several small fish, (I do not know salt water fish well enough to even guess what they were). On Tuesday morning we will get a leisurely start and get on up to Singer Island by mid-afternoon.
After our “leisurely” cruise up to Palm Beach from Boca Raton Lake, we had a lot more traffic today and a lot more big wakes to deal with, we arrived at Riviera Municipal Marina at dead low tide. There was plenty of water under us but we were so low relative to the fixed docks that it took us most of a hour to get tied into our slips. Then the challenge was to get off the boat. Rick came to pick us up to go to their house for dinner about 5:00. We had a wonderful visit with them and of course, Cynthia had prepared a great dinner. It was great to visit with them both and share our adventures of the past months. They spent the summer in the Bahamas and had shared some experiences with Jeff and Anne. They had also cruised down to Key West for a festival in the fall.
Rick and Cynthia came to the marina and picked us up about mid-morning and by the time we chatted a bit we did not get away from the boats until nearly noon so we made our first stop the Brass Ring for lunch. Then on to the Super WalMart for a shopping fix. By the time we got back to the marina it was way too late to depart today, 5:00, so we will stay again tonight and leave on Thursday morning.
We finally got away from the marina about 9:15 this morning. We had planned to make several short days coming up the coast but since they delayed the space shuttle shot to Sunday we decided to try to make better time up the coast to get a better look at the launch. We made it to Fort Pierce today and called it quits and pulled into the City Marina. We are quite impressed with the facilities and the town here. After we got checked in we stopped at the tiki in the marina for a beer and someone walked up and grabbed my arm. It was Jim and Sue from our marina in Wilmington. They are here on their boat and have just bought a house here, really in Vero Beach. It was neat to see them. “It really is a small world.”

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Key Biscayne to Palm Beach

The first photo is our view of Maimi from Biscayne Bay hear Boca Chita Key. The second photo is Shelly in the very clear water at Boca Chits doing her favorite thing, shelling. The third is













our two boats on the wall in Boca Chita harbor. The fourth photo is the light house at Boca Chita, this is the approach to the harbor. The last photo is the view of the waterway leaving the Anchorage Resort Marina where we stayed on Key Largo.





We got away from Crandon Park a little later than anticipated. We were slow getting biscuits made and then we had to get our key deposit back and Shelly went over to buy bait. We got underway about 8:00. As we passed into Miami C-Life called on the radio. They were just leaving the anchorage at Marina Stadium and caught up at the first bridge which we had to have opened for passage. This was a different stretch of water from any other we have cruised. Most of the way was lined with high rise condos and beautiful homes. We passed through most of what is considered the canyon because the waterway is lined on both sides by concrete walls. We encountered very little traffic most of the way but it is easy to see how the wakes ricochet off the walls and keep the water very churned up. We had pretty good luck with timing on the bridges which we had to have opened and made our anchorage at Boca Raton Lake by about 3:30. Shelly got to fish for a while and caught several small fish, (I do not know salt water fish well enough to even guess what they were). On Tuesday morning we will get a leisurely start and get on up to Singer Island by mid-afternoon.
After our “leisurely” cruise up to Palm Beach from Boca Raton Lake, we had a lot more traffic today and a lot more big wakes to deal with, we arrived at Riviera Municipal Marina at dead low tide. There was plenty of water under us but we were so low relative to the fixed docks that it took us most of a hour to get tied into our slips. Then the challenge was to get off the boat. Rick came to pick us up to go to their house for dinner about 5:00. We had a wonderful visit with them and of course, Cynthia had prepared a great dinner. It was great to visit with them both and share our adventures of the past months. They spent the summer in the Bahamas and had shared some experiences with Jeff and Anne. They had also cruised down to Key West for a festival in the fall.
Rick and Cynthia came to the marina and picked us up about mid-morning and by the time we chatted a bit we did not get away from the boats until nearly noon so we made our first stop the Brass Ring for lunch. Then on to the Super WalMart for a shopping fix. By the time we got back to the marina it was way too late to depart today, 5:00, so we will stay again tonight and leave on Thursday morning.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Pictures

The first picture is a group of boaters enjoying a pot luck dinner at the Sombrero Dockside Marina where we stayed in Marathon. The second photo is Muriel standing on Highway 1 near the seven mile bridge.









We got away from Marathon just before Marathon owned us. We all enjoyed our time there but it was time to move on to another place. We are on a mooring ball about 35 miles up the keys from Marathon at Lignumvitae Key. Shelly had already caught 9 small fish so she is enjoying it. It was a pleasant night. We got underway about 7:30 and had a pretty run on to the Anchorage Resort and Yacht Club near Key Largo. It is a nice facility and the grill next door had a pig picking dinner Saturday evening. We enjoyed the meal with Blue Max.
Sunday’s forecast is for increasing winds with a chance of thunderstorms in the afternoon so I guess we will stay put today.
Bill and I walked across the new bridge to get Key Largo in hopes of seeing the boat from African Queen. After we crossed the bridge we figured out that the address was still 6 miles down the road. So we got a couple of hot dogs and walked back to the boat. Soon after we got back it began to rain, good to be back and good to be in the dock. We decided to wait out the winds again on Monday so we messed about on the boats with small chores and then had a shuffle board challenge after lunch. Bill and Eileen were too much for us, they beat us soundly several times before we had enough sense to call it quits.
We finally got to moving on Tuesday morning and even though the winds were forecast to be stronger than we would have liked but the bays were very nice for cruising. We arrived at Boca Chita Key early in the afternoon and immediately fell in love with the place. It is what we expected all the keys to be like. It is isolated, and during the week it was only lightly used. We did meet some other cruisers in the small harbor and a looper, Foreign Exchange, came in on the second day we were there. It was so beautiful we spent two nights. The island was owned by the Honeywell family in the 1930’s and they built most of what is on the island today. We got to climb up in the small light house they built on the island and a caretaker who lives on the island during the winter was very nice about telling us the history of the island. On our second day we took the dingy and Bill, Shelly and Muriel and I went out to snorkel and we took Bill’s viewing bucket. The bucket worked so well we decided not to get into the cold water to snorkel, (it was 62 degrees). We observed some lobsters and sponge, along with part of an old wreck and a lot of interesting bottom-scape. We also rode the dingy further up along the keys to see a house on a small key. That evening we built a fire in one of the grills on shore and cooked dinner together. Later we taught Bill and Eileen to play Spite, a simple card game we have played for years. On Thursday morning the winds were still blowing out of the east pretty strongly but we watched a couple of other boats leave and decided to go on. We had a pleasant cruise on up the Dinner Key Marina at Coconut Grove, just below Miami. Jeff drove over and met us at the marina shortly after we got settled. He took us around Miami and out to South Beach. The girls enjoyed that! There is a Fresh Market just around the corner from the marina so we stopped in the marina’s pub for some beer and then bought things for dinner at the Fresh Market. Muriel served a great dinner.
It was about 2:00 when we got away from Dinner Key Marina. We encountered quite a bit of traffic crossing the bay to Crandon Park Marina. First we had to stop and wait for a sailing regatta to clear our course and then they rounded a mark and headed back toward our course. Next we had to change course to avoid a barge tow and then there were several pleasure boats on conflicting courses with ours. This seemed like a lot of traffic for such a short run. Crandon Park Marina is has very nice docks but the facilities are still undergoing a renovation so there are no showers and the toilet facilities are shared with a heavily used public boat launching area.
On Saturday Shelly and I walked about 1 ½ miles down Key Biscayne to the Crandon Park beach area. Shelly enjoyed looking for shells she can use for her necklaces. I enjoyed watching and visiting with a very active kite boarding group. There were as many as 30 kites in the air at one time with as many more on the beach. On the walk back to the boat we took a wrong turn along the trails and ended up at a dead end at the inlet just north of the marina. We had to back track which added to our walk when we were both ready to be back at the boat. Muriel spent the time while we were walking to clean the boat. When I returned we washed some more windows and then pulled the rug off the sundeck and washed it on the dock. It dried slowly in the sun on the concrete dock and we put it back on board before dark. It was drier this morning than we expected.
We have decided to get underway fairly early on Monday, daylight savings time started last night, and run to somewhere north of Ft Lauderdale. We hope to be up to the Singer Island area by Tuesday evening. We have talked to Rick Drum, a friend from Bay State Milling. We both retired from Bay State last spring. We hope to get to visit with Rick and his wife while we are there.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Our Last Days at Marathon

Bob and Trish from PogoPelli took us out to locate some geocaches. This is new to us, people hide small containers with a log book and several trinkets inside and then list the lat-lon on a web site and others try to locate the cache and sign the log book and if they like one of the trinkets the will exchange for something they have. It was fun to search for them using a hand held GPS to get close. Both beaches were worth the visit just for the beach. The first one in near the end of Cocoa Plum Road. It is a nice beach where local people gather to let their dogs run on the beach and in the water. We have been there twice now and many of the same people were there both times. The second beach is in a residential neighborhood at Key Colony. It overlooks the water to the west so it would have beautiful sunsets. We may have to try it one evening.
Over the past few days we have spent some time each day working and cleaning on the boat. It is amazing how much cleaning a boat requires. Last night Robert and Kay from C-Life had just returned to their boat after driving to NC and back to attend a funeral. They brought back a bag of oysters from NC. Which they shared with many of us on the dock. It was a good time.
Today is Valentines Day. We will probably go out for dinner somewhere near the marina….We ended up going to No Name Pub over on Big Pine Key. It is a place similar to Cabbage Key “Hamburger In Paradise.” We saw two of the Key Deer, one was an eight point buck but not much larger than a large dog. They were not at all afraid of people because they have been protected for many years. During the afternoon we took the dingy and toured the harbor here at Boot Key and stuck our nose out into the gulf waters.
On Sunday we worked on cleaning the boat some more. The bimini was beginning to get some mold on the under side so we selected a mold and mildew treatment and set about to wash it. When I started to wash the seam split wide open so now we have to get the top restitched. On Monday morning I contacted a woman who had a card posted on the board at the marina. She will come by on Tuesday to look at it and give an estimate.
The woman looked over our bimini and agreed that the sunbrella is in good condition so she will restitch the entire top for us.
On Tuesday evening Muriel prepared jumbulia and we had Dave and Poly from the boat next to us and Bob and Trish from CocoPelli for dinner. It was fun.
Wednesday we worked around the boat some more. Muriel made some bread from a starter dough she had gotten from Margie on Wandern L&M. The bread is very good. I used some compound and the buffer on the front of the flybridge cowling and I intend to wax and buff it on Thursday. Wednesday was Muriel’s birthday so we went out for dinner to a nice restaurant at Key Colony where they have an early bird special. Muriel got a good laugh about going out for the early bird special on her birthday. We went with Blue Max and Greg and Barbara from Goncruzin. They arrived here about a week ago from Maryland. They will head north about the middle of March to do the loop.
The woman called late yesterday to say she would not have time to restitch the entire top but she did agree to restitch the part which split out.
I have gotten sorry just hanging around here. I have lost track of blogging. One day last week we went out with Greg and Barbara on GonCruzin to the Sombrero Reef to snorkel. When we got out to the reef we decided the water was so rough that is would be too difficult to get back on the boat after we were in the water so we returned to the dock and took the car down to Bahia Honda State Park and played around the beach there and snorkeling there a little.
booth at a boat equipment flea market for a friend who makes all sorts of tote bags from old sails. We went to the market on Saturday morning with Blue Max and Wander’n L&M. We enjoyed the show and make several purchases.
On Saturday evening we went over to the City Marina where several boaters gathered to share their music. This group picks and sings just about every week. We had a good time listening and visiting with the hand full of folks there. Sunday was the monthly pig roast at the grill here at the marina. We went with a group of loopers. The entertainer was one of the guys from Saturday day night.
On Monday the woman picked up our bimini at 9:00 to restitch it. She said she would have it back by lunch but it was late afternoon by the time she got it back. I was a little concerned about how difficult it would be to get it back on. I had market the pieces and their location on the bows. It was no problem to get it back on.
Our month of slip rent will expire on Wednesday so we will be on the move again if the winds let up enough to allow it. We are ready to move again, however, we have not done everything we intended while here. Muriel and Shelly may get back to Key West today. I will have to stay here because we have a diver coming to replace zincs on the bottom of the boat and clean the bottom. We have collected a lot of bottom growth by sitting here a month after setting in Everglades City for a month.
Bennie came and cleaned the bottom and replaced our zincs and I got some more waxing done. Then I rode the bicycle into town and found a man to come to the boat and check our house batteries. He reports that both batteries have lost about 40% of their capacity. He does not have replacements on hand and cannot get them before we leave. We can get by for a while.
There was a large pot-luck dinner on the dock last night. Quite a crowd showed up and it was fun visiting with everyone. Les and Judy from Voyager II came walking down the dock yesterday afternoon. I certainly did not expect to see them here. They completed their loop at Hudson, Fl. way up on the west coast of Florida. They said they hauled Voyager II and cleaned her bottom and got all the work done and then sat at home for about two months and said, “Why sit here, let’s go.” So they took off and intend to do the “down east loop” this summer. They are at a different marina but we invited them and they came over for the dinner. They had done quite a bit of work varnishing exterior wood while we were together up in the rivers but they say Voyager II looks still better now.
We took the dingy down to Burdine’s hoping to meet Les and Judy from Voyager II and eat lunch. They were gone but we ate lunch there. We did enjoy the dingy ride through the harbor and back. Yesterday was a busy day. We were in preparation mode, getting ready to leave Marathon after a month’s stay. I decided at the last minute to go ahead and put in two new batteries for the house batteries. I had not even completely finished that when Muriel found that the galley sink was leaking. It had a small hole in the bottom of the sink. I was able to seal it up with some J-B Weld. The last of the grocery shopping is done and we think we are ready to get underway, at last. It looks like the weather will co-operate for at least a couple of days. Double Trouble X 2 arrived yesterday. We first met them at the rendezvous in Charleston last spring and again in Chicago and at Joe Wheeler last fall. They started the loop from Demopolis, Al in December. We got to visit with them last night and we hope to see more of them along the way. We plan to get underway about 9:00 this morning.
Well, we got away from the dock at about 8:30 after farewells to new friends and old ones. It was a bit on the windy side but the direction of the wind made our travel up the inside of the keys OK. We arrived at Lignumvitae Key about 2:15 pm and picked up a mooring ball. This is the first time we have done this and Muriel did an excellent job of hooking the line and getting us secured.
I have tryed three times to get pictures loaded onto this blog and I have lost them each time. So.....no pictures this time.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Posting to get photos

The first photo is Shelly at Key West with a large Pithon snake around her neck. The next photo is some of the chickens which roam the streets of Key West. The next photo is a looper gathering which was held just a couple of days after we arrived here. The last two photos are a small park and beach on the Atlantic Ocean side of Vaca Key. We take the dingy from the boat through a small channel to the beach, that is our dingy on the beach in the last photo.



















I have finally learned to reduce the resolution of photos so that I can get them onto the blog, I think.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Marathon Days

It would have been fun to have hung on the hook another day at Cudjoe Key but the forecast was changed this morning, calling for increased winds on Tuesday and we did not want to ride out a weather front there and we did not want to travel on into Marathon in 25 knot winds so we came on in today. We had some wind and waves but nothing bad and it settled some when we had to turn our beam to the waves so we had another very nice day. Marathon is like nowhere else we have been. This is without a doubt the most boater friendly place we have seen. We have still not decided how long we will stay. We will soon have to commit to a weekly or monthly rate.
We learned this morning that it will cost less for a month than for two weeks than for a month so we have signed in for a month. We walked around to see what is within easy walking distance. There is a Publix, Super K-Mart, Boater’s World, Wendy’s, a Home Depot, and various other small shops. We enjoyed 5:00 on the dock with several other boats and helped C-life get docked while Bella Luna was docking farther down the line.
On Wednesday I got the bikes off the boat and oiled them up but Muriel was reluctant to ride with her bad knee so I went for a ride by myself. I rode around in a residential area adjacent to the marina and then up and down highway 1. By the time I got back to the boat I had ridden about eight miles according to the odometer on the bike. After lunch we got the dingy down and went out to see some of the sights by water. We went out through a small channel to the ocean and stopped at a beach to walk around a little. We also stopped by to chat a little with PogoPelli, a sailboat we bet in Everglades City.
Thursday we messed about the boat in the morning and went out in the dingy in the afternoon to explore a little more and then walk on the beach again. Bill and Eileen found out that her nephew manages the country club across the street from the marina. Bill had been wanting to play golf and now he has a way to get on the course. We met him and he is a very nice guy and quite active around the community. I rode over to the hospital to see if it would be practicable for us to dingy to the city dock and walk to the hospital. The woman in the emergency room told be to remove the stitches myself and when I explained that they were not visible from the surface she gave me the name of a local doctor to call. Turns out that Josh, the nephew, knows the doctor and said that if Muriel has any problem getting an appointment let him know and he will contact the Dr.
While I was riding in that part of town I stopped at the inflatable boat shop and bought some glue to re-glue an attachment for the dingy davit stiff arm. One is coming loose. I also purchased a hydrofoil for the dingy motor to help get the dingy on plane quicker and with more load.
It is quite warm here again today. Someone said the high in Miami yesterday set a record for the date. The wind is beginning to pickup and a cold front should move through tonight. Highs will be reduced to the seventies instead the eighties.
Boy! The wind blew last night. Muriel and I were up between 12 and 1:00am to get the dingy back up because it was rattling so badly I could not sleep. Then about 3:30 I was back up to tighten the stern lines. This morning was cold and windy, but sunny. Bill and I went out to pickup a rent car he had arranged. He had arranged for an Impala size car and we ended up with a van because that was he had to offer. This makes very comfortable riding for the five of us. Bill has really scored since we came here to Marathon! We rode down the Keys a ways toward Key West and turned around thinking that we would wait for a warmer day to go there. We missed the farmer’s market and just caught the tail end of the flea market at the City Marina. Tomorrow is Super Bowl Sunday. We plan to go to a club on the island where Eileen’s nephew will be doing a talk show and then back to either the boat or to the Grill for the game.
On Super Bowl Sunday we went for a ride around the local area to see some of the close-by Keys. This area is quite different from anywhere else we have been, maybe more laid back. We ended up at the bar where Josh was doing the live pre-game radio show. He had a table reserved for us, it felt like we were special! They had a lot of gifts for contestants for giving three out of five correct answers to Super Bowl trivia questions. The first thing we knew, Shelly was up there with the microphone to answer questions. With the help from the audience, she got the correct answers and won a tee shirt, which was what she wanted. After too many appetitizers and several pitchers of beer we had Eileen drive us back to the marina where we watched the game on Blue Max and cooked hot dogs with them.
On Monday we got Muriel’s stitches out and ran errands around the area. At 5:00 all the loopers in the area gathered at the Marathon City Marina for munchies and drinks to socialize and get a picture of the group. There were 64 people representing 30 odd boats. Everyone was surprised at the large number of people. Some had finished the loop several years ago and were still spending winters here in Marathon on their boats. Afterward we went to the boat next to us, Ole Salt, a couple who finished the loop several years ago, for dinner along with Bob and Trish from PogoPelli. During dinner we had quite a storm with winds up to 60 miles per hour. Larry from Wanderin L&M said his weather radar showed a possible tornado just outside on the Atlantic side.
Yesterday, Tuesday, we went to Key West for the day. It is just a pleasant drive, about 46 miles, from here. The weather was quite cool for here, high 60’s, and windy but we still had a good time. We rode a sightseeing train around the Old Town area and then had a late lunch at a Cuban café and walked around the old harbor. By that time it was time for the sunset celebration at Mallory Square. There was also a very large cruise ship just leaving port. That was a sight to see it maneuver away from the pier. We enjoyed some of the performers and then decided it was cold enough to get into the car and head back to Marathon.
On Wednesday we went to the Dolphin Research Center on Grassy Key. This is where the movie Flipper was made. They have several fenced pools on the Gulf side of the Key where they rehabilitate dolphins and train them to test the intelligence of dolphins. It was quite interesting to see the dolphins interact with the trainers. For a substantial fee visitors can get into the water and touch, ride and kiss the dolphins. It was cool and windy and we got pretty cold before we left the Center.
Thursday was just a laid back day. We hung around the boat most of the day. Bill and I went to get some bottom paint for his dingy and we picked up some more supplies at Home Depot for the shelf I am preparing to build for Shelly. When we returned to the boat we had a horrible odor which I traced to the holding tank being over filled and leaking from the vent line into the bilge. I removed and cleaned the vacuum breaker on the pumpout line and got the level down so that it stopped leaking into the bilge. Another trip to West Marine to get some citrus bilge cleaner and a new vacuum breaker. I also stopped by a shop to request a quote to reupholster the helm seat on the fly bridge. The man will come on Friday to give the estimate. After all that, I never got started on the shelf.
The man never showed up to look at the helm seat and I worked on laying out the shelf and decided the shape was too complicated for me to do a proper job with the tools I have on board here to I will not build it at this time. I will look for some type of wire frame organizer shelf to set in the space.
On Saturday morning we went to a farmer’s marked nearby. He had very nice looking produce so Muriel stocked up. Just down the street from there a garden club was having a sale so naturally Muriel had to wander through their “stuff.” After that we visited an art show (flea market) in the parking lot of a shopping area. Muriel and Shelly enjoyed looking and Shelly bought a tie-died cloth to use as a wall hanging in her room. She has wanted this since we left last May. The weather continues to be cool for here and windy.
Sunday, Muriel got up and did several loads of laundry. This took until past noon, so I took the opportunity to install a new anti-siphon device on the holding tank pump out and check out the engines so we are ready to go when the time comes. Along that line, we will have been here two weeks on Monday and we have paid for two more weeks. We hope this will give us enough time so that we can move slowly up the Florida east coast without getting too far north while it is still cold. After working in the engine room I decided to clean out some storage spaces in our room and ended up washing the inside with a Clorox mixture to prevent any mold or mildew. While I was at it, I pulled our bed apart to check the steering system and rudder post packing. I adjusted the stbd packing and the steering looked fine. Next I washed the floor in the salon and waxed and polished it. It still has many scratches but it looks much better.

Sorry for the lack of pictures, we have some we would love to post here but we have been unable to maintain a good enought connection to get them posted.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Everglades City to Cudjoe Key via Russell Pass & Little Shark River

We our goodbye’s to everyone present at the NCOBS and left Everglades City about noon on Friday. It was rather sad to leave the place we had enjoyed so much but it was time we moved on. We met Blue Max in the Gulf outside Indian Key at the mouth of the channel into Everglades City and ran back into the channel to anchor in Russell Pass. It was a beautiful evening. Bill and Shelly and I took Blue Max’s dingy and explored the area a little. We got to watch a dolphin playing with a fish it had injured. It played with it like a cat playing with a mouse it had caught. The evening was beautiful with clear skies for the sunset and very light winds.
We had a beautiful night at anchor in Russell Pass and a leisurely start in the morning. Bill had several little items to tend to and we got under way about 9:00. The gulf was beautiful for the 37 mile run to the Little Shark River. This looks like a nice anchorage. There was one sailboat here when we entered and another trawler right behind us. We went in beyond the elbow just inside the river and dropped the hook in the channel in about 12 feet of water. The trawler has a sailboat following in to anchor with him in the elbow. We were all settled by 3:15 and Bill and Shelly are on in Bill’s dingy fishing. Muriel is reading on the foredeck and I do not know where Eileen is. Our intent is to cross Florida Bay to Cudjoe Key tomorrow and anchor there for one or two nights and play around before we venture on to Marathon.
While Bill and Shelly were fishing, no luck by the way, they went over to the other trawler and they are loopers so they invited them over to Blue Max for a visit at 5:00. We had met them at Joe Wheeler State Park but did not recognize them until we began to visit. They started the loop in the Tennessee River this fall. By evening there were at least a dozen boats in the Shark River. We were surprised this morning at the tide range here. The water is down five feet from when we entered the river at near high tide yesterday.
We left the Little Shark River at 9:00 am and made the 40 mile crossing to Cudjoe Key. We worked our way into the Cudjoe Channel and got anchored about 4:00. Bill and Shelly and I took Bill’s dingy over to the nearest key and roamed around the beach a little. The water is 63 degrees, a little cool for enjoyable swimming but not bad for walking. Back on the boats, we took showers on the swim platform and enjoyed the 5:00 hour. We plan to move on to Marathon tomorrow.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Our Stay at Everglades City, & NCOBS

We have talked for some time now about leaving Everglades City on Monday, January 12, to head on down to the Keys. There is a cold front forecast to move through the area Tuesday with some increased winds and unsettled weather for a few days so we may stay here a little longer. We did run up the Barron River here in Everglades City yesterday and fill up with diesel fuel at a very good price. While there we ate lunch at the City Seafood Market. It was very good. The owner, Richard has a trawler parked at the market and he talked at length about doing the loop. He has owned commercial fishing boats for years but has never cruised for pleasure. We encouraged him to join the AGLCA for information and to meet other loopers and take off. We plan to meet Blue Max today and help them get moved over to Goodland because the rental period on the house ends today. We will get our final shopping done in preparation for leaving.
All that is done but the weather is not favorable to our leaving for a few days. There is a cold front moving through with winds forecast to reach 30 mph with 7 to 13 foot seas out on the gulf. This is off shore but it will create a significant swell inshore which will make travel uncomfortable and preclude our going to Gudjoe Key which is fairly exposed. This morning we had kitchen duty for breakfast and then we helped paddle several canoes over to the national park headquarters where some crews will begin their course. This afternoon we plan to go to dinner with Jeff and Anne.
On Saturday a crew of ninth graders had gotten stranded by extremely low tides and could not get back to the base in time to depart with the rest of their group. Later in the day nine of us left with Jeff on the ferry boat, (pontoon boat), to go out so that they could ride back on the ferry and we paddled the canoes back. On the way out we had problems getting across one shallow bar due to the low tides, they were extra low due to the continued northerly winds blowing the water out of the islands, so we all got off and pushed the ferry. We were in mud about knee deep. I finally lost one of my Crocks so I began to go bare footed. I got several cuts on my feet from oyster shells in the mud. They are sore but they do not seem to be getting infected.
We have lost track of days. We are still at Everglades City waiting on the weather to favor our leaving. Today is Monday, January 19, 2009. The weather forecast this morning shows more cold fronts moving into the area with strong winds and possibly rain. The lows over the next several days may reach the high thirties. That will feel cold. The forecast looks like maybe we will see some good travel weather by Thursday. Another boat which Jeff and Anne met a couple of years ago at an anchorage along the North Carolina coast has been holed up here in Everglades City also. They completed the loop two years ago. They are just cruising the Keys this winter. Jeff invited them to tie-up here at the camp’s docks for a few days until the weather improves. They are traveling on a 23 foot sailboat so there is space for them.
As we prepared to leave the NCOBS to drive into Naples to buy groceries, Muriel went back to the boat to get her shopping bags and she tripped on a line from our boat to the dock and fell hard on the concrete dock. She had a huge bruise on her right wrist and she split her right knee open and was bleeding profusely. Jeff and I checked her and bandaged her knee and I took her to the ER in Naples where she received three stitches in the knee. X-rays showed no problems in her wrist and no foreign material in her knee. She is quite sore this morning and her knee is stiff but she was up at 5:15 to help me make four dozen rolls with sausage rolled inside and three dozen cinnamon rolls for breakfast and then we did most of the dishes before returning to the boat.
The weather looks favorable for our departure on Thursday. We had a squall here about 4:30 this morning with heavy rain and strong winds. It is supposed to remain cool today with an overnight low in the high thirties tonight and tomorrow. Highs this weekend in the high seventies. We are ready to get back on the move but we were planning on doing some snorkeling and Muriel will not be able to get her knee wet for a couple of weeks.
Today is Friday, January 23, 2009, and we are going to move at last. We have truly enjoyed our stay with Jeff and Anne and the group here at NCOBS, Everglades. We will miss them and Carlie but it will be good to get on the move again. Blue Max is leaving Goodland right now and we will leave here shortly and meet them at Indian Key which is the mouth of the channel to Everglades City. We will see what time we meet there and decide whether or not we can make Little Shark River in daylight or maybe we will anchor at Russell Pass, just inside of Indian Key. The weather looks good for the next several days so we have no need to hurry.
I am going to post this without pictures so I can get it finished and get on the move.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Time in Everglades City

The first photo is a picture of the open sailboat which Jeff and two other Outward
Bound people sailed from Everglades City, Fl to Beaufort, NC a few years ago. The second photo is me installing a new door in one of the staff houses on base. The third photo is the group which Blue Max had for dinner on last Friday. The fourth photo is Bill riding the inflatable toy in the pool at the house they had in Marco. The last photo is just some of the group eating dinner at the Outward Bound Base where we have stayed since Christmas.




















Another exciting day for Sunshine…we had a leisurely morning and got away about mid-morning to do It was fun to see them and hear about their fishing trip into the ten thousand islands. They did quite well. I needed some supplies to finish the installation of an anchor washdown system and Muriel needed some food on the boat because we plan to leave tomorrow to spend one night at anchor and then go on to Goodland to party a little with Ithaka, Southern Comfort and Blue Max. Then we will return to Everglades City.
We worked on various projects around the NCOBS on Saturday morning. I got the washdown system completed except for the electrical connection. We were a little later than anticipated so we anchored for the night at Camp Lulu Key. This is where we planned to be on New Year’s Eve. It was a pleasant anchorage rafted with C’est Le Vie, Jeff and Anne’s boat. We enjoyed breakfast on Sunday morning and then left to make it to Goodland in time to meet the group. We were the first to arrive! But Blue Max and Southern Comfort were not far behind. It was great to get together again! We were joined by Jeff and Anne and Ed and Tracy. We walked from Chip and Michele’s cottage over to Stan’s, a local Sunday afternoon party happening. I call it a happening because that is what it is. We all had good laughs and then went back to Chip and Michele’s for hamburgers and hot dogs. What a great time, visiting and sharing remembrances of this past summer. Shelly had spent the night at the cottage on Saturday night with Chip and Michele and Chip and Shelly did quite well fishing from Chip’s pier. Naturally Bill had to try his luck on Sunday and as usual without any success. He and I have the same fishing luck.
We, Sunshine and C’est Le Vie, spent Sunday night at Chip and Michele’s pier and left Monday morning after breakfast. C’est Le Vie went straight back to NCOBS. Sunshine stopped for a while at Panther Key and spent some time on the beach before continuing on to NCOBS. Muriel and I got the boat washed and then I finished the electrical connection of the washdown pump while Muriel helped Anne in the kitchen.
Shelly lost the cap off her front tooth last night so Muriel has an appointment at 9:00 tomorrow morning in Naples to get it fixed. We ended up spending the entire day in Naples. The dentist did an excellent job on Shelly’s tooth then we went for lunch and spent the afternoon running errands and collecting needed items. Then in the evening after we had returned to NCOBS and eaten dinner, Muriel dropped her glasses and the frame broke. So in the morning it was back to Naples to a Vision Care Center to get new frames. Luckily they were able to fit the lenses into new frames. Then we met Bill and Eileen for lunch. After lunch we did a little more shopping and got back to NCOBS just before dinner.
On Thursday I spent the entire day removing an old door and installing a new door in one of the staff buildings. There are three crews on base tonight for their final day. Anne will feed 96 people tonight. Muriel helped today by making five 9x13 inch chocolate cakes. We still have to figure out how we are going to refuel before we head south to the Keys. It is still comfortable staying here and working on base but Blue Max will have to move to somewhere on Monday. We are going to eat dinner with them on Friday night so we will decide then what we will be doing.
Friday morning we messed around on the boat and then I set out around town to try to find someone who would sell me some diesel fuel. I located a man who agreed to sell me some of his fuel. No one in town sells fuel on the water any more so most of the crabbers have their own fuel tanks at their docks. Most of them will not sell any fuel. Dinner on Friday night was a lot of fun. Eileen and Bill prepared a lovely meal for nine of us, Blue Max, Ithaka, Sunshine, and Golden Lily. Jim and Barbara drove down from Punta Gorda where they are staying until the end of February. We spent the night with Blue Max in the house their daughter and her husband had rented for the holidays. Saturday morning was fun, we all went out for breakfast and then Bill, Shelly, and Muriel enjoyed a swim in the pool. We finally left and returned to Everglades City. There were a lot of people here last night and Anne had her hands full preparing food for the group. She had worked hard all day getting food ready for some crews who are departing on Sunday and Monday. As usual, she pulled through with another excellent dinner.
We have to get some shopping done on Sunday so we can leave on Monday. The tides may be a bit awkward for us to be departing on Monday morning. I have to take another look at that situation. We plan to backtrack to Marco to reunite with Blue Max and anchor at Keewaydin Key just north of Marco. From there we will head south to anchor a few nights in the Ten Thousand Islands and then on down to Cudjoe Key to start working our way up through the Keys.